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Getting to work

Medford school board lays out plan to hire new district administrator
Getting to work
Dave Fleegel
Getting to work
Dave Fleegel

Medford School District residents got the opportunity Monday night to give input in what they want the district to consider as the board undertakes the process of hiring a new administrator.

Current district administrator Pat Sullivan has announced plans to retire at the end of the school year. The board has posted the position and laid out a timeline on how the position will be filled.

Monday night’s special session to hear from residents was an opportunity for residents to share the qualities they would like the board to look for in the new superintendent.

On March 4 - Job posting closes and the School Board begins review of applications and selects five or six candidates for the first round of interviews.

During the week of March 18, the school board will interview the five or six candidates selected.

See MEDFORD on page 12 On March 25 the board will narrow the field of candidates to two or three in closed session after the board meeting.

On March 28 there will be a community meet and greet in the Red and White Theatre starting at 6 p.m. The candidates will introduce themselves and tell everyone a little bit about themselves. This will be followed by refreshments in the cafeteria. Those in attendance will be given score cards where they will be able to give their input on the superintendent candidates with that information to be taken into consideration by the board in making their decision.

In the first week of April, the school board will do the final interviews of the candidates and make a decision.

At the April 22, school board meeting, the candidate selected will be formally hired.

At Monday’s input session, a handful of residents gave input on what they would like the district to consider in an administrator after hearing an explanation of what the role of the administrator is.

A district administrator/superintendent serves essentially as the chief executive officer of the school district. The individual is hired by the board and is answerable to the school board and has the task of supervising all the other staff members along with working with the public.

Board president Dave Fleegel offered to have the job description provided to residents noting that it was just about the longest job description people will see. He noted that in addition to the duties laid out by the department of public instruction, state laws and school policies, the administrator also is tasked with going to local town and municipal board meetings in the district at least once each year. Fleegel noted that this is something extra the board puts on the administrator here.

In addition, the administrator is involved in negotiations, hirings and terminations while serving as the conduit of information from the staff to the school board.

Resident Betty Danen expressed concern about curriculum and wanted to ensure that the district does not adopt “woke” curriculum. Fleegel noted the administrator has a role in the curriculum process, but that the seven- year review of curriculum starts with the staff members in those departments who make recommendations to the school board for final action. She said that the Medford area is generally conservative and urged the board to select someone who shared those conservative values.

Resident Bryan Bormann said he would like the district to go away from “vision” types of goals. “The visions thing doesn’t get roofs repaired, it doesn’t get leaky basements fixed,” he said.

“The board needs to forget all the vision horse hockey,” he said, noting that with three recent failed referendums he would like the board to hire an administrator with more fiscal responsibility.

“I think fiscal responsibility had to be a number 1,” he said. He also called on the district to put greater emphasis on improving results from students.

“We are only fair to middling,” he said, comparing Medford to other districts. He said he would like the district to put a higher priority on improving education.

Fleegel defended the district’s test scores noting they compared favorably with state averages.

“I think there is room for improvement,” Bormann said.

Resident and parent Amanda Lange said she wanted the board to select an administrator who “has a backbone” and who is willing to look for ways outside of the box to get things funded. She also said they need to be open and adaptive and willing to change.

“If you are not changing you are getting stagnant,” she said.

Teacher and parent Cory Nazar said he would encourage the board to look at administrators who would commit to the district and bring their families here. “I would like the next administrator to not commute to the district and not treat Medford as a stop or resume builder,” he said.

It was noted that the average duration an administrator has been in their positions in the state is between three and five years. Fleegel said they have gotten lucky with people who have stayed longer in Medford.

Teacher and parent Sarah Faude said she appreciates that Sullivan makes the time to come into the buildings and talk with the staff members. She said this makes a positive difference in the schools.

Area residents took advantage of an open forum seeking input on what the community wants the school board to focus on in selecting a new district administrator.